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Friday, 22 April 2016

Resetting. Resting. Not Writing. A First Blog Post After a Month of Work... And Rest

It's Friday night, when I usually write my blogs, and you may or may not have noticed that I haven't written here for a while. Give that I am a mental health advocate, I have to remember that I can't (or shouldn't) over stretch myself. If I do I can't write blogs anymore, or campaign, or go out for walks or whatever. It becomes too hard. Unfortunately it is the blogging and the walking and the 'whatever' that I need. I could replace it with the words 'work life balance'.

Instead of writing this I could be working still, but there has now come a time after four days back at work when I needed a break. And that's what I've been doing, by the way: working... And taking a break. Ever since I finished the whirlwind of Thoroughly Modern Millie I've been working and then recovering, and actually a month or so before that too. Some of what I have done at work recently has been particularly exacting on my energy levels, and I was out of the country working too. I don't know if you've ever worked away from home for long, but it gets easy to let working hours leech into what is usually non-working time. It gets even easier when you are in another country. Other people, people that you know and love, are thousands of miles away, for one thing, but for another thing, they're not on the same time zone as you.

I find myself working beyond my working hours sometimes, then, yes I admit it. I also admit that I can't then do other things always, like writing this blog. I don't want to give up on talking about my mental health and sharing what it's like to work and live at eat and sleep with it, while it's with me. But I have to tell the truth, and this is the truth: sometimes I am too tired and not well enough to do everything that I want to. I have to sacrifice something. And what can I sacrifice? I need to pay the bills. I need to keep my job, therefore. I need to complete my job and then I need to rest so that I can do it again.

It's not an interesting or a fun story, but it's the truth. I can sacrifice my blogging which takes time away from those two things - working and resting. It means I keep my job and that is one less thing to worry about, along with the ability to pay my bills.

But it does mean that I can't do this thing that I absolutely love the most. I love, love, love writing and writing about this. It's me time at the end of the week and it's not just 'me' time, it's reflection, it's creative, and it is active rest. It's frustrating not to be able to do this. I have felt angry at myself, these past four weeks while I haven't blogged. I didn't even write a blog to explain - because I was either resting or working. I didn't even say 'hello'.

Actually that's not true, I tried to blog a few times and wrote a few paragraphs here and there on this and that. I did that four weeks ago, and two weeks ago, and I'm determined that this one will be finished. Today, never mind if I don't fit in the pictures at the end - which is enjoyable but time-consuming. I will write.

I've been in India working and then in the USA 'playing'... actually resting and playing. Yep, I've been doing the Mars Bar thing. And now I'm back to work, and back to blogging and campaigning. I'm in the country. I am feeling a bit stressed at the end of the week, feeling like I've done quite a bit, which is just the tip of an iceberg of oncoming work, campaigning and other activities coming up. This is why sometimes I have to step away from it all and rest totally.

Pressing "reset" is sometimes the only thing I can try to do to keep going.

I am sorry that I haven't been blogging, but authentically, I had to not. I had to stop everything else because otherwise I would have been ill. I wouldn't have been able to rest (facing facts I've always been completely dreadful at resting and it is still a huge effort, and an accomplishment if I manage to relax). If I kept blogging all the time and never admitted that I was feeling the strain this wouldn't be a true blog about what living with mental health challenges is really like. So I stopped.

I started campaigning this week again, speaking yesterday evening and early this morning at Harvey Nichols to their head office and London store staff about what it is like to have depression and to say it out loud, and why the help that Mind charity provides is so vital - literally - to sustaining people through hard times, from the moment when they realise they or someone else is struggling through everything that comes after it.

Harvey Nichols has established a corporate partnership with Mind and will support them for the next two years. What makes me especially proud is that this super cool, classy customer service and consumer goods supplier par excellence asked its people which charity they wanted to support, and they chose Mind. Good choice! Thanks to them for having me to speak to them about my story and why it's important for us all to support ourselves and everyone around us facing mental health difficulties. It was inspiring to see the enthusiasm for getting involved and making a difference on people's faces today.

This is why I needed to rest. So that I can continue to use my voice. To speak aloud to one person or a room or a television camera, or tap my fingers on the keys and tap louder, to talk about mental health.

It's now twenty five minutes since I started typing and my heart and mind and body feel more relaxed and gladder, twenty five times more so. Next week I plan to write more - though some blog posts, if I finish the ones that are unfinished right now, will be out of sync with the timeline. I do have more to say, of course... But now it's time to rest again.

Stay in touch, and take care of yourselves. x

Sunday, 20 March 2016

Finding my passion... And my feet! #48hourmillie

On a Friday night in November I saw a tweet from @MindCharity, a charity I've campaigned for in many ways to share my experiences of having mental health problems and challenge the perceptions of people who think mental health is scary, non-existent or makes a person weak. 

The tweet invited people to audition for a musical - here is is:

Immediately I became excited. I learned that Ian Haig and a company called Showtime48Challenge were launching a venture to stage a West End musical for Mind, with the catch being that it would be rehearsed in only 48 hours before a performance in the Adelphi theatre on The Strand. Just in case you didn't get that: a musical. A musical anyone could audition for. In the WEST. END.

Goosebumps prickled my skin as I read Ian's Mind blog to find out more:

Ian had done something extraordinary. He had recognised he had mental health challenges, including crippling anxiety. But in order to tackle this he decided to prescribe himself an incredible medicine: he would gather a team and stage a musical in 48 hours. 

Singing for me brings a smile to my face, and when I open my mouth and sing, whatever the song, the tempo or the lyrics (although perhaps not Whigfield's Saturday Night or "It's Chico Time") I start to glow in the inside and my heart starts singing too. 

I have sung alone in my hotel room after a long day in an office somewhere, anywhere,  to take some time for me and find joy. I have sung at weddings and I have sung in my car. And, finally, I have sung and acted in quite a few musicals when I was a lot younger.

Quite a lot younger!

But the bravery of this exercise and the fantastic nature of the 'medicine' Ian decided to take just inspired me. Ian had found his passion and something which contributed to better health. How could I not want to be a part of that?

The only catch reading that tweet was the timings: barely twelve hours to go till an audition where I would have to act (fine), sing (perfect), and dance... Oh dear.

But I went along anyway, danced horrifically to steps I had never heard of and to my astonishment, at the Mind Media Awards last year, Ian and Ashley and Barry from the team told me that I. had. A. part!


And here I am today writing this after 36 hours of rehearsal (and sleep) time under my belt, costumes and makeup packed, ready (ready?!) to go on tonight with the brilliant cast and crew that have come together to perform Thoroughly Modern Millie.

It became quickly apparent that many of my fellow cast members had a decade or more experience of toe tapping and shuffle steps whereas I'm more comfortable and capable building business strategies for change and creating PowerPoint slides and Excel spreadsheets. And that this was going to be a challenging time because somewhere between November and Friday night, one or more people had decided to put me into a musical where I would have to dance.

As someone who now suffers from anxiety (worsened by the side effects of my anti depressants) this was... Overwhelming... Daunting... Terrifying. I actually started to have shooting pain in my chest during my first rehearsal, as my anxiety levels went 0-60MPH in 2.4 seconds. Yikes.

The one thing I know about my mental health, though, is that stepping away from a challenge is not necessarily the best way to help me feel better. Feeling like a failure is something I do well. I'd go so far as to say that I consider myself an elite failure-feeler.

At work, distracting myself from negative feelings with positive inputs to work or conversations is hugely beneficial. So here I just tried my best and carried on. 

I cried on Friday night (in rehearsal) when I couldn't do the steps. And again yesterday several times after person number twenty-two told me I'd started on the wrong foot and asked me whether I'd like some help. Yep, I was feeling like a high performing failure at this point. And heaping shame onto my poor stepping skills.

But the cast and crew were so endlessly patient and helpful as I felt like every question I asked was too many. And I definitely asked more than a few.

7:30pm last night I had attended several more rehearsals and become slightly less crap, all the while styling it out through acting. And then the dress rehearsal with everyone, plus an audience, to see how those 130+ rehearsals going on had worked it for us.

And it was amazing. I haven't done theatre for so long that I had forgotten how brilliant the camaraderie of a company is. Everyone was supportive, self-motivated and it everything into making the show work. 

A support network is important for everyone and is vital to good mental health. The company worked as a massive support unit, everyone looking out for everyone else. I couldn't help but find that joy in every scene and every person in that room, and will ever be grateful for that support as an amateur performer still holding back the tears and fears to give the best possible performance I could.

So here I am. Saturday morning. Fewer than 12 hours to go till curtain up. Will it be okay? Of course it will, because we are doing something that fills us all with joy, we are working together, and we have big hearts.

See you in a day to tell you all about it. Take care xx

Friday, 12 February 2016

Give It A Rest. Back To Work or Back To Bed?

I'm thinking about going back to work.

I'm thinking about it because it's the end of the day on Friday and it's time to write my blog. Well, nearly time. Usually I reserve 4:00pm (my time of writing) for last minute bids which have been in the works for two weeks or so but which land on my desk with an hour or so to go of the working week. I laugh in the face of last minute bids. Seriously, nothing comes up as top of my Christmas list on a Friday afternoon work-wise, but actually these last minute things are quite fun because I have to supercharge my mental faculties and go for it.

It's nice sometimes. To feel one is to an extent the heroine of the hour. 'Elastigirl' (see below) swoops in with the slides at the eleventh hour. Delivers the goods. Writes beautiful slides. Creates a lovely balance between graphics and language. I say lovely. We're still talking about technology-related change. I love my job and all, but these slides are not Shakespeare I confess. I wonder what he might think of Power Point... Definitely up there with my desert island fly on the wall moments.

Shakespeare didn't consent to this by the way

Anyway, no bids or other work at the moment. I'm off. I may be the MVP (most valuable player) for my inability to sit still, (I learned that abbreviation via a process of elimination whilst reading Tina Fey's "Bossypants" this week) but I also know that if you don't rest (and by you I mean me) then you (I) don't get better.

I read this, but for feel good 
I'd recommend The Year of Yes - Shonda Rhimes. 
You go girl, I mean, highly successful award-winning writer.

Rest then. 

But rest can be bad for the mind even if good for the body. I've stacked up what I feel is a fairly impressive range of TV Boxsets, films and books over the last two weeks. I've also written a few notes to self, scribbled using my wonderful iPhone microphone which I discovered during my first back surgery. And I've slept a fair amount.

Netflix, I salute you. except it would be great if you showed all the 
shows available in the USA. Apart from that, you're, pretty okay.

I've also done my fair share of navel gazing. I really would prefer not to talk about that here, because I'm shaking a figurative finger at myself for that, and also I didn't plan on my navel featuring much in these web pages. Not as such. But the above does make me pause because it's rather unfortunate for my mental health suddenly being at home and forced to spend too much time on my own. My overall recovery could be disrupted by a dip in my mood, and I have felt that these two weeks.

Yep. This is me. And generous at it. This woman has super powers after all.

Unfortunately although the surgical procedure went really well and I even said goodbye to my stitches (staples even) yesterday, I have been struck with severe stomach cramps on the right hand side - apparently gas trapped inside me made worse by past stomach surgery. And not going anywhere despite a lot of muscle relaxants. I feel like I should be dropping around the house like Morph or Elastigirl. In reality I've got more hot air than both the Montgolfier brothers put together.

Pain that has come from a known but supposedly temporary source is unpredictable but unlike my mental health, because this is supposed to dissipate in days rather than months or years even it is annoying for each day it remains as a guest, tolerated but ever out- staying its welcome.

My mental health in the other hand. I wasn't exactly surprised to feel deflated (ironically) to be stuck at home with even washing my hair a now painful as well as seemingly gigantic task. But it had to raise its ugly head and remind me it was still there. "Oooh me! Me! Me! Me! Me!" as if jumping up and down and leaping for the chance to receive the ball pass.

Whereas in reality...


Yeah, don't worry Depression, it's not easy to forget about you. And thanks for reminding me that staying away from work is not the way to further my career. You're right, it won't. I won't do anything at home while off sick because I'm ill and that, my dear, is the whole idea.

Hey there. You, know, I'm feeling a little big boned today.

But I also know that I won't get better hurtling back into work when I can still not stand without bending over in puffball agony. Not just because it won't be my most attractive pose. But also because I've been to the wellness centre at work and it's fab, but the duvets at home are within much easier reach thanks, and I can also wear my very cute jumper with the rabbits on. These are important considerations.
This is the exact style of jumper that I mean.
I own one of these!

Seriously, I cannot count the number of sick days I had off from school when I desperately didn't want to go and did and then felt awful, nor the days I didn't go and didn't feel good either. I also have had days when I went in to school or work or university when I didn't want to and it has been fine. Mentally I have to decide every time whether it's bad enough to be off or whether work (of whatever sort) will help to distract me and manoeuvre me into a better state of mind. 

This is not an exact science, but physically it's easier to determine. I can't move without being in fairly extreme pain. Okay. That means no work. Or at least if it subsides the smallest chance to work at home but absolutely no travelling, no carting a heavy laptop around and no uncomfortable clothing. My laptop's video camera will not be in use. I would not wish my frankly fabulous mouse pyjamas to distract people from the seriousness of my "message".

I don't have these exact ones. But like these.

And mentally while this is going on I have to do what I can (as always) as we all do to take care of the physical stuff so it's as unobtrusive as possible and provide some sort of active rest - watching, reading, writing... Okay I admit, also playing Angry Birds. Active rest meaning something that isn't too much or stressful (okay, might have to take out Angry Birds) but keeps my mind going and away from my navel.

Which is currently covered in an attractive range of winter woollen leggings and an assortment of sweatshirts people in the eighties might have thought appropriate for callisthenics. (My iPhone just spelled that for me, I take no credit.)

All this and more. I am an eighties icon
(lying down without the trainers)

So, it's now 6pm and would usually be time for clocking off. So clock off I shall. From my blog post. I have no idea how I'll feel on Monday but there are two whole days in between, including your favourite and mine, consumer goods made up price-hoiking day of the year, or Valentine's Day if you must. But as I always say at the end of these posts take care. Health is precious. Take that from me. Michelin man. Take care. X

(This was created by
Those people have serious time on their hands
and even more serious coding enthusiasm!)

Friday, 29 January 2016

I'm Still Breathing...Have No Fear

I don't know what it's like in other countries, but in England when you're in hospital, waiting, without knowing quite what will happen, is the majority of how you spend your day. If you're an outpatient you check in and are on a list somewhere. If you know who your surgeon or consultant is you might be lucky and catch a glimpse of this lesser-spotted member of the medical species, but that's no guarantee they'll be seeing you. Checking into hospital last night I knew I wouldn't see my doctor till he next day.

I did know that I'd be checked in by a doctor, a nurse, a pharmacist and an anaesthetist, all asking the same questions and variously putting in a cannula, giving me a gown, reminding me about nil by mouth etc. At this point I'm not in pain so there's no rush. It's when I start to expect the surgery to happen and there are often claims that what I've been told is different to their understanding: "Your surgeon said you'd be next. But we have you down as number three." 

Short of calling my surgeon's secretary or making better friends with surgery schedulers or A&E I've no clue as to how to resolve this and concentrate in the main in just staying put and as calm as I can, trying not to believe too hard that it will happen - to avoid disappointment - and trying not to believe too hard that it will - at any minute - lest I am caught unprepared. An unsent text to Mat, not finishing this post (in case it's the last one). Not done.

I'm in hospital again. This time, not for anything to do with depression or mental health, but because it appears that the quite miraculous job that my surgeon Mr Laban did to save me and my back a year and a few months ago has worked a treat, and the screws in my spine have done their job and that my back is now healed enough for the screws to be taken out.

So here I am, in a small room where I can see south London outside of my bedroom window, waiting, just as I said, for my drip to be hung, for my surgical stockings to be brought and put on my legs to make them look as unattractive as possible whilst hopefully preventing clotting and DVT, and any hope of bein featured in Stylist magazine.

I had an amusing baptism of fire to the hospital on arrival last night around 8 PM, when being introduced to my private room (I am here as a private patient this time in the hope that it means that the procedure will go ahead on that date part, rather than the risk of being sent home possibly more than once which would negatively affect my mental health by increasing my anxiety about what is already a simple-but-dangerous operation). I found when I went to go to the toilet that it was already occupied... By a suddenly mortified nurse or orderly who, on being discovered, could not even look me in the face but eyes to the floor shuffled, stooped, at pace, out of my room and back into the anonymity of the hospital corridor. Something tells me that nurses are not meant to do this sort of thing!

A super-stylish surgical stocking tantalisingly emerged

Being here is a sign of the future, a sign that perhaps, after all the difficulties caused by the accident, this is the last step to putting it all behind me, then moving forwards, hopefully literally, since of course this operation is not without its risks.

(Image credit:

I do want the future to come, even on my darkest days I believe in the future. I believe that good things are going to come to and from me and others, the people that I care about so much. It's progress from the days that I can still remember, although perhaps not as clearly as when I am experiencing those days, when I feel that everything is hopeless, because I am hopeless, broken, useless, no good to anyone. Thankfully today is not one of those days.

Yesterday I had the most fantastic day off from work, spending the entire day at Maudsley Learning (@maudslearn) in Denmark Hill to speak several times during their #whymentalhealthmattets about my personal experiences of depression and mental health problems and my beliefs and perspective on the things that have helped me continue to work, and continued to make progress in my career, despite the fact that my depression became so severe in 2014 and still continues to bother me much more than I thought it might after such a lot of therapy and medication. I was moved by how many people (many from HR, recognising that this is a relatively new area but a wide-reaching one) have made the effort to attend from their various companies. Of course, I believe that everyone should be taking an interest in this because mental health and physical health are indivisible and whatever health needs are we should have support from our organisations.

It's so rewarding to speak openly about what my experiences of depression, support, stigma, progress and life have been when it follows with people telling me either something of their own story or telling me that my story has helped them to understand a little bit more about these conditions the people are still so afraid to talk about or think that they might have themselves – even mild stress.

Why Mental Health Matters Conference 2016

We still have such a long way to go to understand these mysterious health conditions relating to our minds. Sometimes I do feel like a bit of a science experiment, knowing that I've been on six different types of antidepressants and I've had counselling many times. I suppose that just makes me a work in progress, which is what we all are. I'm not done, I'm still learning, learning to walk, learning to fall, learning to do things well, and learning to fail and fail better as Samuel Beckett said.

I've just seen the anaesthetist, so all being well I'll be off to surgery soon to have the screws taken out of my back. (I had spinal fusion surgery in October 14 after a minor fall caused a major fracture issue.) There were many complications in the last surgery, but I have to be optimistic that that won't be the case this time. The future, I'm hoping, is something that I'll have a chance to be a part of, and hopefully a part of as a well person without further physical complications (I'm sort of signed up and resigned to my continuing mental health management, so it would just be nice to know that despite the accident I'm okay to one extent!). 

(image credit: Pinterest)

However, at this time is one always reflects on the fact that something could go wrong and that I might lose the privilege of speaking out and saying something to the world that is just mine, as I have now in this blog for the last five years. For that reason then I'm posting this, so that all being well I will be writing a follow-up post soon. I'm very afraid, but trying not to be, telling myself not to be afraid, telling my husband and mum the same thing. Telling myself I'm still breathing. Whatever happens I really believe that we need to take care of each other and take care of ourselves.

Let's keep talking, shall we? Talking leads to openness which leads to us all being less afraid, which leads to more openness, and to the start of understanding. I'll see you soon for another conversation. Love to you all. Xxx

Wednesday, 27 January 2016

Out of the Blue and In The Pink

It comes, it goes, it stays, it leaves...

My last weekend's post is fragmented with ups and downs, and therefore late because my mental health has been fluctuating, but knowing that writing helps, here it is.

Monday 18th January.

I'm feeling so so about the day ahead. Neither good nor bad, neither despairing or excited, at least right now. Right now I'm concentrating on the essentials: getting out of bed. Making the bed. Showering. Drying my hair. Dressing for the day and packing up my rucksack. Then there's the rush or swift pacing towards the train. And on the platform beside me are hundreds of others who have just gone through all those same things and probably more. They might have children to rouse and cajole and chastise through all of those steps above, parents or other relatives to care for, or perhaps they have already been up for hours exercising. (It is, after all, still January.)

Last week I wrote a blog post for Mind on the so-called and fictitious Blue Monday, explaining as clearly as I could that anyone with with depression could be #blueanyday.

So here's a look at my week.

Monday last, I performed all of the above. With a new year goal to try to be healthy and fit, with a hope that as a side effect I would lose some of the two stone I've gained since breaking my back and being on a cocktail of drugs, at least one of which appears to have beaten down with a stick my ability to eat well, exercise regularly and manage (to a better extent, at least) my weight.

I was extremely busy all day with a number of meetings with team members, colleagues leading projects I'm involved with, my boss and with others. On these days I know I won't have created a document (or 'deliverable', the word my business seems - inexplicably - to prefer) in my hand at the end of the day, the management consultant's equivalent of a painting to take home to mummy and daddy to put on the fridge with proud faces. I rush around the building, knowing that I will certainly meet my daily target of 10,000 steps as my meetings are randomly situated over the fourteen-storey two-building expanse that is my office.

Working my brain into an oiled gets a little rusty over the weekends at time

There is a reason that I schedule all these meetings together though. One after the other the meetings happen, and I take "a mindful breath" before each one, and get through them. during the first I might feel my gears or cognitive cogs creaking into life after the weekend of luxurious lie-ins (till 7:45!). But as the first meets progresses my clanking cranium starts to move more steadily and stronger, the oil of my breathing and breakfast silently slithering around inside me so I start functioning properly. My point is: once the wheels are turning, I want to keep going as much as I can. 

It's worth it to get my brain in gear and be productive

My mind is whirring eventually and I can actually think about each topic on the agenda and bring something valuable into what we discuss. And my second point is, that, I can't get any detailed work document compiled in a snatched half hour where I should also try to grab my lunch. So, at the end of Monday I feel surprised that it has arrived. I don't have anything in my hand to show for it, to prove I've done anything worthwhile, except a notebook of actions and considerations; but I did get through the day, which I always try to see as something positive these days, and attending so many meetings in a way makes the most of my mental and physical energy reserves to speak and contribute and to be in front of people.

My day can end with notes on a piece of paper, 
but those notes lead to decisions and - finally - to 'deliverables'

I go home and eat something for dinner. Something healthy, and watch television and then to bed. I didn't sleep properly on Sunday night so today, I hope, things will be different.

Tuesday 19th January

Just keep going. Get dressed, and do the things that come after that. 

Tuesday is usually the same, but last week a combination of needing to spend a large amount of time on teleconferences with colleagues in other locations meant I decided to stay at home. Without a three-hour round trip commute I can just get so much more done. Unfortunately I didn't sleep well again, so I indulged in an additional 45 minutes in bed. Some attempt that when I rose, finally, I would be able to push my mind into a state where I could work. I had more listening to do rather than talking, more notes to take, then, but also more time to be quiet even while listening to others talking.

The structure of Monday (with all its meetings stacked up) works for me, but I need both company and solitude to balance my mental health, and time away from the office is a great way to be fully involved in my work but not exposed to the anxieties of travel, dressing up, all the above "start the day" activities. Plus, no one can see my face or any part of me; I could be wearing my pyjamas or my jeans. (If I'm at home as I was for most of Tuesday, I'll likely be wearing jeans, thick socks, a woollen t shirt, two jumpers, a woolly snood, a rug-like scarf and a hat. Our central heating is either on and not very hot or off. Either way sitting still for hours is not the best if you want to stay warm.) the point of this alone time is to be able to carry on working on terms that help my mental health not get in the way of progress.

I ended the day with a treat to see a film - Room - at the cinema, alone. I love solo cinema trips, since it was always too late to organise spontaneous visits with friends most weekends. Alone in the cinema I can think whatever I want and it doesn't matter if others disagree. I won't need to be polite and listen and broker my way through the discussion; it's just me on my own in the dark watching a story unfold, and my review is in my head, not open for discussion or critique.

Wednesday 20th January

Wednesday was similar in form to Tuesday. I spent my working hours at home on calls and producing some documents in the time in between. I can't remember whether I slept well on Tuesday night or not, but I suspect I didn't. Somewhere along the way through Wednesday morning a combination of feeling numb and feeling desperate seep in and I notice by lunchtime that I feel like going to bed and not getting up for the rest of the day. 

I wasn't overworked, I was overwhelmed by depression.
Not the same thing. It can happen through over work,
but I'm still working on understanding this skittish illness

Where does it come from? I had therapy coming up later and so, so wanted to stay at home and slip under the duvet away from everything and everyone in the world until Mat finally got home. But the practical part of me somehow wrestled me into boots and out of the door. I didn't enjoy the fresh air on the walk as I felt the despair of myself - the self I cannot love - in spades. But I know that the exercise and air are natural remedies for better mental health. And luckily for me, it was beautiful. Rationally and unobjectionably beautiful.

The only thing I can think of ito explain what has become a regular mood dip is that the middle of the week is when I have involved myself in the work equivalent of a mess of wool and knitting needles of activity, and if I stop every stitch will perhaps unravel, or if I continue I must be unrelenting in my commitment to progress. You can't make an omelette, etc. Perhaps that is it. It's the second Wednesday in a row when I have felt like this. I can't remember if it came on at the same time, but by the time I'm through with crying in therapy and back at home in the evening, still crying, I did remember how it feels to feel desperate and that things won't get better.

TV. Food. Sleep. I think the sleep worked this time. I didn't have anxiety in my stomach and tingling all over me the next day. That's all I've got. So that has to be good enough.

Thursday 21st January

Thursday was unusual. I had to go to Tooting for a hospital appointment and walked all the way there from home, rising very early, to try to use the walking and fresh air I know - rationally - that I have to include in my life for better mental health. My feet hurt by the time I arrived but I focussed more on hope that my brain would be flooded with positive endorphins of the exercise rather than the dull, murky and lumpy vessels of whatever chemicals are causing my depression to come back and dip my mood again. I also wondered whether two days at home consecutively had made me lonely, so I` don't know. I'm just trying a lot of things I know are good for me and hoping for a better day tomorrow if today is rubbish.

I had a reason to feel somewhat abnormal. I was nervous about seeing my neuro-spinal surgeon a whole year after our last meeting. He is both a brilliant surgeon and a thoroughly nice man but I was terrified that I wouldn't be deemed fit and well to have the screws taken out of my spine and afraid in equal measure that I would. I had to call my health insurer to gain an authorisation code for the surgery which is another worry for me, as the representatives are trained to the precise words that come from their mouths to offer a balance of sympathy and firmness, the latter in particular when one of them tells you that you aren't covered for that and that there is nothing that they can do, even if you might find your life at risk because of that seemingly irrational and quite silly conclusion. (To be fair this has only happened once, for suspected sleep apnoea.)

When I've got a lot on my mind, my thoughts
weight twice as much as my body

The rest of Thursday was part triumph and part disappointment. There are so many days like that, where hour to hour I feel elated one moment, but the next in a slough of despond. I had a couple of great meetings but also several where no one showed up. If this happens once, great, I can use the time to get things updated for one project or another, find the resources to fee fulfilled. Three or four cancellations, though, and I'm slightly panicked that I won't be able to achieve the things I was meant to, feeling sick. These things happen; I have to tell myself that, and that there's no reason that it's me. 

This sometimes worries me... 
I am, after all a control freak... so I can control scheduling the meeting,
but not who attends them!

Sunday 23rd January

I'm skipping forward to Sunday as its getting late and I'm very tired. Even blogging, which I love, takes energy, and I need some reserves for Monday. Continuing to try exercise for health, I  had run on Saturday morning and struggled but running on Sunday was easier. Reading through the above makes me feel sad, because it really wasn't a bad week at all, but I hate how a small thing can make me feel really dragged down. Meeting up with two lovely women from the In The Pink a cappella group to discuss International Women's Day and their performance at my work was a delight and so much fun. We laughed and shared our love of music and its powerful means to make me (and everyone) feel good. and walking around beautiful Oxford with Mat lifted me up again. Not necessarily forever, but the inspiration of music and beautiful buildings, happy memories and fantastic people are always going to be magical medication, and make me feel well again. 

Doing what I can to stay in the pink and out of the blue

So here's to another week of ups and downs that leave me somewhere along the narrow road to tomorrow. Take care. x